Selected Movie Synopses

Blue Eyes of Yonta Flora Gomes (Guinea-Bissau, 1992), 90 min.
Yonta is a beautiful woman growing up in the city of Bissau a generation after her nation has gained independence. She develops a secret, unrequited crush on Vincente, a good friend of the family and a hero in their country's struggle. Meanwhile, Yonta herself has a secret admirer, a shy young man named Ze, who sends her love letters copied from a Scandinavian book. It is from one such letter that the film gets its title. This lovely, delicate work about youthful illusions, both personal and national, powerfully demonstrates director's Flora Gomes's marvelous talent for eliciting wonderfully nuanced performances that show how alike we all are when it comes to matters of the heart. In Creole and Portuguese with English subtitles.

(Followed by discussion, led by Dr.Humberta Jackson-Lowman, Clinical Psychologist.)

Secuestro: A Story of a Kidnapping Camilla Motta (Columbia/USA, 1993) 92 min.
In 1985, twenty-one-year-old Sylvia Motta was kidnapped on her way to school. She was held in a small room for three months while her father negotiated a price for her liberty. This story is a microcosm of the Latin American social reality, where shortsighted exploitation of resources and human beings has seriously undermined the fabric of entire nations. In Columbia, a kidnapping occurs every seven hours. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Shida and Matatizo Flora M'mbugu-Schelling (Tanzania, 1993) 57 min.
Ingeniously blending fact and fiction, Shida and Matatizo is a moving plea against the exploitation of children in Tanzania. Two young children, Shida and Matatizo, work a "double day" going to school and then doing intensive manual labor to help support their families. In search of a better life, they run away to the city. There, Matatizo falls in with a group of homeless children living in the streets and scrounging garbage, while Shida finds work as a domestic servant, caring for an entire household and two infants until tragedy strikes. In Swahili with English subtitles.

Featuring: Filmmaker Flora M'mbugu-Schelling in person

A Certain Morning Fanta Regina Nacros (Burkina Faso, 1992) 13 min.
A Certain Morning is a provocative look at cinematic illusions versus deadly realities. Tiga is a farmer who lives peacefully with his wife and children on the Mossi plateau. When he hears a woman calling for help one day, his entire world is called into question. This is the first film by Fanta Nacro and the first fiction film by a Burkinabi woman. In Mooré with English subtitles.

I, Worst of All Maria Luisa Bemberg (Argentina, 1990) 100 min.
Drawn from the book The Traps of Faith by Novel Prize-winner Octavio Paz, this is a superb portrayal of the 17th-century Mexican poet Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, one of the greatest poets of the Spanish language. After she enters the convent in order to pursue an education, Sister Juana (played by Assumpta Serna, the femme fatale of Almodovar's Matador) develops an intimate relationship with a noblewoman (European icon Dominique Sanda), who inspires her poetry. When the forces of the Inquisition invade the convent, this ravishing duo have only each other to turn to.

Neria Godwin Mawuru (Zimbabwe, 1992), 103 min.
Based on events in director Godwin Mawruru's own life, Neria ruefully illustrates deliberate perversion of traditional customs for the sake of money. Neria and her husband, Patrick, have built a solid, comfortable life in the city. But when Patrick is tragically killed, Neria finds herself caught in the clutches of her husband's family. Invoking "tradition", her brother-in-law first takes all of her money and possessions and then tries to take her children -- leaving her with little more than her clothes. Feeling helpless at first, Neria gathers the will to fight back and finds that both law and tradition are on her side. Neria is a fascinating portrait of a society in transition as well as a powerful feminist statement. In English. (Followed by discussion, led by Ms. Jumoke K. Ewedemi, Alafia-An African Cultural Exchange.)

Knocks at my Door Alegandro Saderman (Venezuela, 1993) 105 min.
Set in a small Latin American border town in political turmoil, this film personalizes the moral dilemma confronting many small democracies in South and Central America. It focuses on two nuns who have been caught hiding a politcal fugitive and must face a stark moral dilemma: whether to wrongly claim that he forced himself on them or face a firing squad for harboring a rebel soldier. In the film's tense conclusion, politcal action and moral action merge in a moving act of courage. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Sh'chur Shmuel Hasfari
Sh'chur represents a journey of reconciliation with tradition. After her father's death, Rachel, a television broadcaster, journeys to her past in an immigrant town on the edge of the desert. She is in distress, anxious and on the verge of a breakdown. Her Husband is far away - their relationship appears strained - and she must deal with a retarded daughter.

The audience will experience Rachel's tribulations as she comes to terms with the painful memories of her immigrant family. She must reconcile her deeply rooted culture, which was established on the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, with the grave difficulties her family encountered with assimilation in Israel.

New Land Orna Ben Dor-Niv
Anna (8), a strangely quiet girl, arrives in Israel from war-ravaged Europe with her brother Jan, her soiled Teddy bear and a tattered photo of her lost mother. Anna refused many of the refugee's offers of adoption, choosing instead to wait, observing the joys and sorrows of others. Jan moves to a kibbutz where Anna is not accepted. Distressed by Jan's desertion, she falls gravely ill. Upon meeting her brother again, she accuses him of being just like their uncle, who betrayed the family to the Nazis.

New Land is a bittersweet fantasy of finding a new home to call one's own.

Under the Domim Tree Eli Cohen
Under the Domim Tree is a coming-of-age story based on the autobiographical book by Gila Almagor. Set in Israel circa 1950, the story takes place in a teenagers' youth village. The village houses orphans who survived the Nazi concentration camps, and other troubled Israeli youths. During the day the youths seem like any other normal teenagers, but when night falls, painful memories of the horrors of the Holocaust resurge. When life becomes unbearable, the teens find refuge under the beautiful Domim Tree - the only place where they feel at peace and find a trace of solitude. Several stories intertwine to form the powerful tale of this unique group of young people.